Authorities: Indy Home Explosion Investigated As Homicide

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Authorities have launched a criminal homicide investigation into the house explosion that killed two people and damaged numerous homes in an Indianapolis neighborhood.

Indianapolis Homeland Security Director Gary Coons made the announcement Monday evening.

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry says search warrants are being executed and that official are looking for a white van that was seen in the neighborhood.

Officials have said they believe natural gas was involved in Nov. 10 explosion in the Richmond Hill neighborhood, which leveled two homes and left dozens more uninhabitable. Investigators have been focusing on appliances as they search for a cause.

Crime Stoppers is offering a $1,000 award and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is offering a $10,000 reward for an arrest and conviction in the case.

Hundreds of people turned out Monday for the funerals of the couple who was killed; a teacher remembered for knitting gifts for her students and her electronics expert husband who was a gardener and nature lover.

There's no way to understand the deaths of 34-year-old John Dion Longworth and 36-year-old Jennifer Longworth, Monsignor Tony Volz told mourners at St. Barnabas Catholic Church.

"Lives have been changed and transformed by this tragic explosion," The Indianapolis Star quoted Volz as saying. "A death like theirs makes no sense."

Investigators have not yet said what caused the explosion in the Richmond Hill, but city Public Safety Director Troy Riggs has said investigators believe natural gas was involved. The Longworth home was destroyed along with one owned by Monserrate Shirley.

Volz pointed out that the Longworths were married at St. Barnabas 11 years ago. He said they loved each other deeply and also cared deeply for others.

"Let us always remember how sacred life is; how fragile life is; how meaningful life is," Volz said. "Material possessions mean nothing. What endures is love."

Jennifer Longworth had taught second grade at Southwest Elementary in Greenwood since 1999. The school was closed Monday so teachers and students could attend the funeral.

Each Christmas, she gave her students hats and scarves that she knitted herself. She also helped the school develop a positive behavior system to make it more inclusive and reduce bullying and tardiness, according to the couple's obituary posted online by Wilson St. Pierre Funeral Home in Greenwood.

Her husband was director of product development and technology at Indy Audio Labs.

"Dion loved sunflowers and took pride in the pear hybrid tree in their backyard. He had an almost encyclopedic knowledge of native wildflowers," the obituary said.

WISH-TV reported the crowd at the funeral was so big that cars overflowed the church parking lot and lined up bumper-to-bumper in surrounding streets.

Among those present were members of the Indianapolis fire and police departments and Mayor Greg Ballard and his wife, Winnie.